Reducing household waste can be easy when you think about what you’re buying and where it will go after you are done with it. In 2018, British Columbians disposed of an average of 544 kg of household waste per person, much of which could have been diverted from landfill by recycling or composting. However, the most effective way to reduce waste is to avoid creating it in the first place.
By following the first three Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) of the provincial pollution prevention hierarchy, a significant impact can be made. See below for some initiatives undertaken by the City to help reduce waste and for tips on how you can make changes in your everyday life.
A little compost goes a long way! Using compost in your garden completes the circle of sustainability and makes your garden waterwise for summertime growing. In celebration of Drinking Water Week and International Compost Awareness Week, the City is planning to offer free compost to residents.
Thank you to everyone that participated in the first annual compost giveaway held on September 26, 2020!
Residents began lining up for compost three hours before the event started. To minimize traffic congestion, we started the event early. Over 250 vehicles were loaded with one 35 L bag of pure compost and one 35 L bag of potting soil compost mix. Ten pallets of compost, totaling 6,500 kg, were given away and all material was distributed by 10:45 am. The compost was made from the yard waste and food waste collected in the City's curbside collection program and was made by Net Zero Waste Abbotsford. With the overwhelming interest in the year's event, planning is already underway to enable more residents to access compost at a spring 2021 event.
The City is tentatively planning to host another compost giveaway in Spring 2021. Event information will be posted as soon as it becomes available, so please check back soon!
Compost is a soil amendment that can improve the health of lawns, flower beds and gardens. It enhances soil structure, increases soil nutrient content, improves moisture retention and fosters plant health. While compost may look like dirt or soil, it is neither. Compost needs to be used along with soil and cannot be used as a replacement for soil. Compost can be used in many ways such as a mixing the compost into your soil or spreading it on top of your existing soil.
Consult your garden centre, nursery or horticultural expert to determine how to best mix this compost for your specific application. Additional tips on how to best use compost is available through the following links:
Fix-It & Swap Events
Fix-It events help people learn repair skills to make their stuff last longer, help people save money by repairing what they have, and help the environment by fixing things instead of throwing them away.
At a typical event, residents can expect fixing stations for clothing, textiles, electronics, small appliances, power tools, bikes, jewelry, woodwork and more! Volunteer “fixers” will help repair your items for free.
For the swap portion of the event, bring your clean and gently worn clothing and accessories and swap for new-to-you pieces to change up your wardrobe. Leftover items will be donated.
Events are held in Ag-Rec Building located at 32470 Haida Drive. Due to the current COVID-19 situation, all events are currently on hold until it is safe to resume public gatherings. When public events can resume, future event dates and times will be posted here.
Frameworq Education Society is a non-profit organization with the mission to overthrow a throwaway culture, bring back repair skills, build resilient communities, and divert textile waste from the landfill. Frameworq Education Society is partnering with the City of Abbotsford to provide clothing repair services and hair scrunchie making stations at the fix-it events.
MetroVan Repair Cafes is an organization that coordinates and runs repair café events at various locations around the Lower Mainland, with a focus on bringing about change to the way that people interact with their possession and in doing so bring about greater environmental sustainability, more inclusive communities, and stronger local economies. MetroVan Repair Cafes is partnering with the City of Abbotsford to provide a variety of repair services.
ElectroRecycle is a small appliance and power tool recycling program operated by the Canadian Electrical Stewardship Association (CESA). In BC, ElectroRecycle accepts more than 400 types of small appliances and power tools for recycling at select depots, recycling centers, thrift stores, municipal facilities, retailers and community events. ElectroRecycle is partnering with the City of Abbotsford to provide recycling services for small appliances and power tools.
Fix-It Frequently Asked Questions
Fix-It events are one-day events where residents in our community can get expert help to repair household items for free. The events are part of the City’s waste diversion efforts and aim to find innovative ways to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill each year through promoting the 5 “R’s” of the waste reduction hierarchy: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repair, and Recycle.
The Fix-It events also provide opportunities for knowledge-sharing and community building. They are participatory events – visitors are required to be present for the repair and are encouraged to get involved for a full learning and skill building experience! No experience necessary and all are welcome. Check out the City’s vlog on a recent fix-it event held in our community.
Bring your broken, worn out, or ripped items for assessment, disassembly and possible repair. First you will sign in at the event so that your items can be counted and/or weighed. Then you will be directed to a Fixer who will review your item with you to determine whether it can be fixed and will then assist you with repairing it. Items are repaired on a first-come first-served basis and there are no reservations or drop offs accepted. You can anticipate to wait in line so please arrive early and be patient. Check out the City’s vlog on a recent fix-it event held in our community.
No. Fixers have the most common tools needed for repairs. If your item requires a specialty tool (i.e., odd shaped screw driver head) or replacement part please bring it along. Sewing machines, threads, needles, and most other repair supplies will be provided on site.
No. Visitors must be present and are encouraged to get involved. This is a meeting of volunteers and neighbours helping each other out, learning about repair, and getting more life out of the things they already own.
Yes! Please note that only one item will be able to be repaired at a time and you will need to re-queue for each additional item.
Fixers will be on hand to repair things like for clothing, textiles, electronics, small appliances, power tools, bikes, jewelry, small furniture and more! Rule of thumb: if you can’t carry the item by yourself don’t bring it (no stoves, fridges, etc.).
Clothing, textiles, electronics, small appliances, and power tools that can’t be fixed will be collected at the event for proper recycling. If you can’t make it to an event, look up your item using the City’s Waste Wizard to find depots and other locations where the item can be dropped off for free recycling.
Clothing swaps are a great opportunity to make space and clear out closets. Bring your quality, clean, gently worn items to give away, and swap them for new things. Accepted items include women’s clothing, men’s clothing, youth clothing, children’s clothing, shoes, and accessories.
Fixers are volunteers who enjoy repairing household items while helping visitors learn. When a visitor comes to their table, the fixer will confirm whether the visitor prefers to work on the item themselves with guidance, jointly, or observe while the fixer does the repair for them. If the fixer does the repair on the visitor’s behalf, the fixer will explain the diagnosis and repair steps.
Fix-It events rely on local handy-people to pitch in to make the event a success, so if you’re an amateur DIY-er, fixer-upper or tinkerer, consider volunteering at an event. You don’t need to be an expert to volunteer as even the slightest know-how can help. To volunteer to help with clothing or textile repairs, please contact Frameworq Education Society. To volunteer to help with all other repairs, please contact MetroVan Repair Cafes.
We are always looking for volunteers to provide general event support including set-up, greeting visitors, visitor registration, counting and weighing items, and assistance with sorting and folding clothes. If these duties interest you, please contact City of Abbotsford Volunteer Services.
Yes! Come check out an event, see how repairs are done, or lend a hand with someone else’s repair job.
Waste Reduction Week
Waste Reduction Week is a country-wide campaign that encourages Canadians to reduce their ecological footprint through the principles of circular economy, resource efficiency, and waste reduction. The program’s primary purpose is to celebrate our environmental efforts and achievements while encouraging new innovative ideas and solutions.
Waste Reduction Week in Canada starts on the third Monday of October every year:
- 2021: October 18 - 24
- 2022: October 17 - 23
- 2023: October 16 - 22
- 2024: October 21 - 27
Visit the Waste Reduction Week in Canada website for additional information on this campaign. Check back in fall 2021 for information on what's happening as part of the City's waste reduction week activities this year. See below for some ideas on how you can reduce your household waste by reducing, reusing or recycling.
Plan ahead. Use a grocery list when shopping to avoid buying food you don’t need. Modify recipes so you only make what you think you will actually eat.
Buy in bulk. Purchase grocery store items from bulk bins and fill a reusable bag or container to avoid unnecessary packaging.
Try a new recipe. Over ripe fruits can be used in smoothies or pies and wilting vegetables are great for soup.
Store it right. Proper storage and understanding best-before dates will help stop spoilage and food waste.
Waste-Free Lunch. Replace plastic bags with reusable containers or thermoses.
Be take-out savvy. When eating on the go, skip the paper napkins, condiment packages and plastic utensils.
Drink tap water. Abbotsford and Mission’s drinking water undergoes thousands of tests each year to ensure that customers are provided with clean and safe water. Residents can take pride in their drinking water – it continually meets or exceeds quality standards set out by the province. Drinking tap water instead of bottled water is waste free too!
Buy local. Locally made items don’t need to be shipped long distances and typically have less packaging.
Choose high-quality. Choosing to buy durable, long lasting items helps them to stay out of the landfill. Carry out research before making major purchases and make durability and reusability your primary decision-making factor – not price.
Choose minimal packaging. Opt for brands that have little to no packaging, and avoid disposable items.
Give less garbage. Holidays and celebrations can generate an extraordinary amount of garbage. Consider giving gifts of culture, wellness, time and experiences that don’t generate waste.
Skip the straw. If a straw is a must, purchase a reusable stainless steel or glass straw.
Avoid single serve. Avoid individually wrapped items and single-serve containers.
Go paperless. Sign up for electronic bills, unsubscribe from junk mail, or even send paperless party invites. With the advance of technology, you can save paper and time.
Repair. Extend the life of items like clothing, appliances and electronics by repairing them.
DIY (Do It Yourself). Look online for ways to make your own “green” cleaners, laundry detergent and beauty products.
Grasscycle. Leave clippings on the lawn when mowing. The clippings quickly decompose and return nutrients to the soil and less material is sent to your compostable waste bin.
Bring reusable. Think about common single use items that could be replaced with reusable versions. Travel mugs, shopping bags, cotton or mesh produce bags, jars and reusable utensils are great examples.
Avoid disposable. Avoid using items like disposable dust cloths and cleaning wipes around the house and instead use cloth rags.
Donate. Before throwing something away, ask yourself if it is still good enough for someone else to use.Try listing it for free on Kijiji and other online sites or donate to a local thrift store or charity.
Buy secondhand. Check out local thrift stores, online sites or garage sales before buying new.
Borrow, rent or share. For items you don’t use often, consider borrowing, renting or sharing with a friend or neighbor before owning them or buying new.
Wrap wisely. Wrap gifts in reusable materials such as cloth bags, dish towels or receiving blankets that can be used over and over again.
Repurpose. Find new uses for things that would otherwise be thrown away. Consider using cookie tins for storage, turning old clothes into rags, and cans as pencil holders.
Compost! Approximately 20% of average household garbage is compostable waste. Diverting food waste and other organics to your compostable waste bin is the single most effective way to decrease the amount of waste going to garbage.
Recycle! A great way to reduce your garbage is to make sure you are up to date on what can and cannot be recycled. Not sure where an item goes? Visit the Waste Wizard for sorting tips on how to properly recycle or dispose of hundreds of items.
Convenience. Convenience sounds like a little thing, but it has a big impact! Ensure your waste sorting station is set up in a convenient location to ensure it will actually get used. People are more likely to use sorting bins if they are placed in kitchen areas rather than in a garage or outside.
Empty, Clean & Dry. Clean your recyclables before placing them with curbside recycling. Items don’t need to be spotless. A quick rinse is all you need. This will help reduce pests, odours and mess and will result in more material actually being recycled.
Love Food Hate Waste
Did you know that 63% of food Canadians throw away could, at one point, have been eaten? For the average Canadian household that amounts to 140 kilograms of waste food per year – at a cost of more than $1,100 per year. All types of food are wasted, but in Canada the most commonly wasted foods by weight are vegetables, fruit, leftovers, bread and bakery items, followed by dairy and eggs.
Wasting food hurts the environment and costs you money. When we waste food, we also waste all the money and resources it takes to grow, produce and distribute that food to consumers. Every day in Canada we waste:
- 2,400,000 potatoes;
- 1,225,000 apples;
- 1,200,000 tomatoes;
- 1,000,000 cups of milk;
- 750,000 loaves of bread;
- 555,000 bananas;
- 470,000 heads of lettuce; and
- 450,000 eggs.
Getting food from farm to table, and then managing or disposing of food as waste, also has a significant carbon footprint – contributing to Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions. Canada’s 2.2 million tonnes of edible food is the equivalent of 9.8 million tonnes of CO2 and 2.1 million cars on the road. Every tonne of household food waste that can be avoided is the equivalent of taking one car off the road each year.
The good news is that this problem is easy to solve. The City has teamed up with the Fraser Valley Regional District to participate in the national Love Food Hate Waste campaign with the hopes of inspiring and empowering residents to make their food go further and waste less. The Love Food Hate Waste campaign offers tips on food storage, meal planning and smarter shopping habits to help people avoid over-purchasing, and therefore throwing out, food.
Diverting food waste to composting is better than sending it to a landfill, but preventing food from being wasted in the first place is an even better way to lessen our impact on the environment. You can reduce your food waste at home by making small changes to waste less:
- Plan ahead. Check your fridge and cupboards first to see what you already have. See what needs to be used up and then think of a meal to make with those items. Use a grocery list when shopping to avoid buying food you don’t need. Modify recipes so you only make what you think you will actually eat. Buy smaller amounts of foods that expire quickly (like fresh fruits and vegetables).
- Try a new recipe. Over ripe fruits can be used in a smoothies or pies and wilting vegetables are great for soup. Check out the Love Food Hate Waste recipe cards and website for some ideas on recipes to try.
- Store it right. Proper storage and understanding best before dates will help stop spoilage and food waste. Move older food items to the front of the fridge or cupboard so they are used first. Refer to the Love Food Hate Waste Fridge Brochure for tips on how to properly store your food.
- Love your leftovers. Pack a lunch with leftovers and take it to work or school the next day. Offer extra leftovers to your friends and neighbours or try a new recipe to use them up. Donate unopened, non-perishable foods to the food bank.
- Use your freezer. Some foods can be frozen for longer storage. Soups, stews, casseroles and lasagna can all be made in large batches and then frozen and defrosted when you need a quick dinner. To keep it easy, always freeze in the portion sizes you’ll want to defrost.
- Compost. Don’t throw food or scraps in the garbage. Instead, place them in your compostable waste container or backyard composter. Refer to the City’s Curbside Collection Handbook for information on what is accepted in the curbside compostables collection program for single family homes. Multi-family residents and industrial, commercial and institutional properties will need to contact their strata council or property management company for information on what is accepted with compostables for their property.
- Love Food Hate Waste Website
- Love Food Hate Waste Infograph
- Love Food Hate Waste Fridge Brochure
- Love Food Hate Waste Recipes
- Love Food Hate Waste Produce Guide
- Love Food Hate Waste Shelf Life Guide
- Love Food Hate Waste Freezer Guide
- Information on Best Before Dates
- National Zero Waste Council
- Video: Just Eat It
- Video: Wasted! The Story of Food Waste
Event Waste Management
Many events are hosted in Abbotsford every year. Community events are an essential component of our City, helping us to be a complete community by driving community spirit and a sense of community identity; as well as fostering a vibrant economy through community involvement and economic benefit. However, events tend to generate large amounts of waste. The good news is there are simple steps event planners can take to reduce waste during the planning, execution, and cleanup of events. For more information on setting up a public event in Abbotsford please visit the City’s Events Webpage or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Promote digitally. Use paperless flyers and digital signs, or consider designing a mobile-responsive website and/or app to minimize the need for paper flyers. Market and promote digital content through social media and encourage relevant groups to share your event on their own social media platforms.
Use recycled content. Design paper event materials using a smaller size and utilize both sides of the paper. Consider using 100% post-consumer recycled paper for all printing needs.
Use reusable flags and banners. Consider sourcing and designing reusable signs such as reusable boards or vinyl signs with white space for stickers to be placed each year. Do not include any dates or any information that can change.
Encourage bulk condiments. Encourage vendors to provide condiments in bulk dispensers rather than in individual packages (e.g., ketchup, salt, pepper, sugar, butter, milk, cream, etc.). Discourage single use items. If disposable supplies are distributed, ensure they are compostable or recyclable items and inform attendees. Encourage vendors to select serving ware in the following order of priority: 1) Reusable, 2) Compostable, and 3) Recyclable.
Provide tap water. Consider eliminating the sale or distribution of single-use plastic water bottles at your event. Using reusable bottles or drinking fountains prevents waste from being generated in the first place and promotes Abbotsford’s clean tap water. Ensure there are good quality, reusable bottles for sale or distribution at the event. Drinking water fountains are also available for use at no charge on a first come first served basis from the City. To request a fountain or fountains for your event, please email email@example.com.
Sort your waste. Consider providing separate bins for separate waste streams at your event. Sorting event waste has the potential to reduce waste disposal costs by diverting recyclables and compostable waste from garbage, it gives your event a positive “eco” or “green” image boost, it reduces the environmental impact of your event, and promotes environmental stewardship.
Train vendors, staff and volunteers. Engaged and educated vendors, staff and volunteers are important to the overall success of greening your event. Ensure they have been educated on your event waste initiatives prior to the event.
A limited number of waste sorting stations are available for use at public events. Each waste station consists of four folding bins that allow for the separate collection of refundable beverage containers, recycling, compostables and garbage.
To ensure waste gets sorted properly at your event, and that the material collected can actually be recycled or composted, the City recommends that waste stations are monitored on event day. Designate staff or volunteers at each station to:
- Help educate attendees on what goes where;
- Monitor recycling and compostables bins to avoid contamination;
- Ensure waste areas are clean at all times;
- Replace bags when full; and
- Transport full bags to the main waste collection area.
Event organizers continue to be responsible for the overall waste management for the event, including sourcing and securing a processor for the material, hauling the material to the processor, and financing any and all aspects of its collection and processing.
The waste stations are available on a first-come first-served basis and can be requested by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Event organizers will need to coordinate the pickup and return of the waste station supplies to City Hall both before and after the event.
Residents have the opportunity to make a meaningful contribution towards a better community through volunteering with the Go Green Team at the annual City-hosted Canada Day event. Go Green Team volunteers are encouraged to monitor the waste stations to ensure attendees put the right things in the right place. Customer service and waste sorting training is provided to Go Green Team volunteers so they can assist the public with answers to their waste sorting questions. As an added bonus, much of the waste sorting training can also be applied at home, work and school to help you sort it right on a daily basis!
To sign up to be a Go Green Team volunteer, complete an application.
Archway Community Services (ACS) provides recycling educational services on behalf of the City through a school education program and workshops for community groups. ACS also operates a Recycling Education Centre located at the Abbotsford Mission Recycling Depot (33670 Valley Rd).
To request a classroom presentation, field trip or community workshop regarding recycling, please visit the Archway Community Services - Recycling Education Program webpage for more information.
If you are looking for resources on waste please click on the appropriate link below:
Check out the video blogs (vlogs) listed below for information on a recycling, compostables, garbage, and waste reduction. Additional vlogs will be uploaded to the City's YouTube account as they become available.
- Abbotsford Mission Recycling Depot Vlog
- Net Zero Waste Composting Facility Vlog
- Curbside Collection Vlog - Garbage
- Curbside Collection Vlog - Recycling & Compost
- How to Use the Abbotsford Curbside Collection App
- How to Use the Abbotsford Waste Wizard with Amazon Alexa
- How to Manage Food Waste
- Waste Reduction Tips
- Plastic Sorting Tips
- Valentine's DIY Gift Ideas
- Make Memories Not Waste - DIY Holiday Decorations
- Make Memories Not Waste - Holiday Waste Sorting Tips
- Waste Management During COVID-19 Vlog
- What Happens to My Recycling?
View a short 3 minute video to learn about what happens to your recycling after the City collects your blue bag at the curb.
- Be Waste Wise
Visit the FVRD’s Be Waste Wise website for videos and other useful information on becoming waste wise.
- Zero Waste Canada Training Programs
The ZWC programs are designed to provide a solid foundation of Zero Waste practices, policies, values, and concepts, with the aim of helping the general public, waste professionals and community leaders gain knowledge on Zero Waste practices.
- The Story of Stuff
The Story of Stuff is a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of production and consumption patterns.
- The Story of Bottled Water
This 8 minute film explores the bottled water industry and encourages the public to invest in clean, available tap water.
- The Story of Change
This 6 minute film urges viewers to put down their credit cards and start exercising their citizen muscles to build a more sustainable, just and fulfilling world.
Can fashion save the planet? This documentary examines the effects of the textile industry on rivers and humanity, and the solutions that inspire hope for a sustainable future.
- The True Cost: The Price Behind A Piece of Clothing
This 92-minute documentary tells a story about clothes: of the ones we wear, of the people behind the making of our clothes as well as the impacts of the clothing industry on the planet that we inhabit.
- The Clean Bin Project
Is it possible to live completely waste free? Partners Jen and Grant go head to head in a competition to see who can swear off consumerism and produce the least garbage. Film length is 76 minutes.
- Just Eat It
This 77-minute documentary is about food waste and food rescue.
- Dirt! The Movie
Dirt! The Move brings to life the environmental, economic, social and political impact that soil has. Film length is 86 minutes.
- What Happens to My Recycling?